Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 141

There's a pretty frenetic pace of work going on around Ground Zero these days.

The Freedom Tower continues rising. The glass exterior is keeping pace with the rising steel, and scaffolding has now appeared on the mechanical spaces from the 10-20 story level, which means that those spaces will soon get their cladding.

Fiterman Hall is getting its outer skin and windows. While the exterior appears to be glass and brick, the brick was installed in large panels so that there wasn't any actual bricklaying on site.

Even work on the foundations for 2WTC are underway.

The Port Authority is even working on leasing arrangements for the retail space that will occupy significant portions of the underground space in and around the PATH Transit Hub. It's working out a deal with Westfield Properties that began with talks in 2008 to fill the space:
These sources said the Port wants to know by mid-fall if it can seal a deal with Westfield. That would give the agency enough time to either find another partner or move forward by itself in developing a plan for the approximately 360,000 square feet of retail space that will be initially built at the site. Roughly 200,000 square feet of that space is in the Calatrava transit hub, which is slated to open in 2014.

In 2008, the Port Authority and Westfield signed a letter of intent whereby the Port agreed to provide approximately $825 million toward the $1.45 billion project, with Westfield providing the other $625 million. However, that deal was based on projections of about 488,000 square feet of retail space. That total has shrunk, in part because there are no immediate plans to build one of Larry Silverstein's three towers.
Meanwhile, a federal circuit court ruled that the Port Authority can be sued by Con Ed and its insurers over the collapse of 7WTC on 9/11. A lower court judge, Alvin Hellerstein, had precluded Con Ed's suit, claiming that the terms of the lease prevented Con Ed from suing the Port Authority on a negligence claim.

However, a portion of Hellerstein's decision was upheld, relating to Con Ed's failure to provide timely notice on certain claims.
"In short, we conclude it was error to read the parties' lease as precluding claims by Con Edison against Port Authority premised on Port Authority's negligence in connection with the construction of 7WTC or the installation of the diesel fuel tanks in the building," the appeals court order said.

But the order upholds the lower court judge on the more general negligence claim, saying Con Edison had not properly notified the Port Authority of its intention to sue on those grounds.
Overall, this ruling opens up the Port Authority to significant financial liability and stems from claims that the Port Authority had improperly allowed its tenants (the New York City Office of Emergency Management) to place diesel fuel tanks used for back-up power, and that the burning tanks had accelerated the collapse of the building late in the afternoon of September 11.

Also, the special master under the Zadroga Act has expanded the geographical area of coverage, but that doesn't satisfy all those who claim to be affected as it excludes areas in Chinatown and Brooklyn where dust and debris came down.

From the Port Authority site:
1 WTC Construction Status

Steel has risen to the 70th floor.
Installation of glass curtain wall has risen to the 44th floor
Installation of concrete floors has risen to the 64th floor
Installation of podium glass will begin in 2012 to allow for construction activities and deliveries to proceed in this area.

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